Tashkent GP 2014 – Round 8
Gelfand probably didn’t expect Jobava’s English Defence and this led to black achieving good play after the opening. I think Gelfand’s principled approach to chess only brings him woe when he’s tired – I spoke about this yesterday. His dynamic style suffers when he cannot sustain it with precise calculation. And today he was impractical – instead of choosing something more solid (after having realised that he’s in no position to play the chess he’s used to) he still went down the most principled lines and was busted in 20 moves after failing to control the situation. It’s a shame that after the triumph in Baku he’s now humiliated like this.
Giri and Jakovenko played a long line in the Hedgehog that led to a fortress for black. I don’t know what Giri’s idea was going for this line as it’s a really easy draw for black. Being on -1 and drawing your white games without play makes little sense to me.
Caruana went for the “boring” line against Kasimdzhanov’s QGA (7 dc5) and I think it was a smart choice – unlike Gelfand, he decided to play it safe. After all he needs to keep a more or less decent score in order to have chances of winning the Grand Prix series and his 50% at the moment is just that (while Gelfand’s disastrous tournament probably robbed him of those chances). If something else falls in his lap, he’ll take it, if not then he’ll just try to stay afloat. At least that’s what I gather from his decision to play it safe against the tail-ender of the tournament. In fact, he had to be a bit careful in the later stages of the game.
Nakamura is a fast learner and he quickly learned how to make a draw with white without suffering like he did in his game against Caruana from round 6. This time he went for a really safe line against Radjabov’s Ragozin, but one that really gave no chances for black to play for more than a draw. Mission accomplished.
Andreikin did the same against Vachier, in a Grunfeld he deviated from the blitz game Eljanov-Aronian from 2010 and with the help of the engine found a way to a repetition.
The most interesting draw was Mamedyarov-Karjakin. They repeated the line in the Nimzo they played at the Candidates and this time black was better prepared. The game quickly became very sharp and the players demonstrated excellent calculating skills and high level of play. With good play from both sides the game was dynamically balanced throughout and it correctly ended in a draw. This game is another proof that age and stamina are significant factors in modern chess – both Mamedyarov and Karjakin played in Baku and they still had it in them to play a practically flawless game that required a lot of calculation, while at the same time Gelfand is collapsing and missing simple tactical ideas.
Tomorrow is a rest day, probably most welcomed by the exhausted participants in the lower part of the table. Since the leading players will aim to draw their games and crawl to the finish line I don’t expect much excitement in their games, except, of course, in Jobava’s.